I watched Kiss the Girls last night and thought it was funny in the final scene that it all happened because the bad guy pulled the phone line. If you watch any Lifetime movies this might happen every other movie. I have surely seen it 30-40 times in a movie or TV show. Now that cell phones are mainstream is this still getting any play? Is the new cut the phone cord, not getting cell phone reception? Did our bad guys lose a major tactical edge in movies?

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    "Did our bad guys lose a major tactical edge in movies?" Yes. Most authors now have to set up a situation in which the protagonist is separated from his or her mobile communication device (or, it just doesn't work 'no reception here'). Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 7:43
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    Don't forget the mobile phone "battery is dead" as well. Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 11:16
  • They just had this happen in the movie "No Good Deed".
    – New-To-IT
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 15:09
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    Seems like the question is answering the question. What happened to bad guys cutting the phone line? Cell phones happened.
    – DA.
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 21:25
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    @blankip perhaps the question is "What is today's version of the 'cutting the phone line' trope?"
    – DA.
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 21:35

2 Answers 2


The old Cut Phone Lines trope has been replaced with the Cell Phones Are Useless trope. It really requires no more thought than any Cut Phone Lines, you just have to have cut the power (to avoid being able to recharge) and have the cell phone battery die.

This isn't difficult to imagine; I still have an iPhone4 and that battery barely lasts 10 hours with no usage, and at most 3 hours if I'm texting/Facebooking. If I'm in a house babysitting and I forget to recharge, I'm basically serial killer bait by 10PM.

  • Or if not a cell phone dead, a cell phone out of signal. Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 15:26
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    "Oh my god! Our signal is being jammed somehow!" Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 23:16

The "phones are dead" trope is still very much a part of story telling but usually appears only in some area effect context (usually with explosions and someone looking constipated or throwing an oh-mah-gawd-we're-in-the-sticks eye roll).

I assume you are not referring to that general case but asking how one party could prevent another adversary from making a phone call in the modern age, and there are two ways: take the device or take the connection.

Your bad guys could "cut the phone line" by either taking out the local cell phone towers or deploying a jamming device (or both).

Cell phone jammers are obtainable/manufacturable but have been illegal in the US since the beginnings of the technology so there aren't a lot of Action McNews stories about them, which is where writers absorb ideas from.

I think that's why jammers are not more common in stories.

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